25 years on and still going strong
Twenty-five years is a long time, but for one local organisation the years have simply flown by

SCA Limited are celebrating their silver jubilee this year with a series of events which kick off this week.

From humble beginnings the organisation, which was formerly the Springfield Charitable Association, has grown massively over the last 25 years.

The Andersonstown News caught up with Chief Executive of SCA, Pauline Canavan before the series of events were launched to reflect on the important work that the organisation has carried out over the past two and a half decades. Currently SCA provide a range of services including an advice centre, nearly new shops, training courses and daycare for the elderly.

The Springfield Charitable Association was set up by a handful of volunteers in 1980 in direct response to need in the Springfield area.

“The organisation started in a very small and humble way. A group of people who worked and lived in the Springfield area were responding to high levels of unemployment and high deprivation in the area,” said Pauline.

“It started off when volunteers came together and opened up a retail outlet, requesting nearly new clothes and selling those and using the money for community services.”

With the introduction of the Action For Community Employment Scheme in the early 1980s, Springfield Charitable Association registered as a charity and became ACE providers. Soon after the organisation undertook a survey of the local area and found that some elderly people living locally were socially isolated. The survey also revealed a severe lack of services for the elderly.

Springfield Charitable set about tackling this problem and established services which would cater for the older generation.

“There was no daycare in the area and that prompted Springfield Charitable to look at establishing a daycare centre and that was one of our flagship projects,” said Pauline.

“We started that off in the building in Dunville Park and very quickly we were working to full capacity offering 20 places a day,” she added.

SCA quickly established the Montague Day Centre, Broadway which provides bathing, hairdressing, chiropody facilities as well as providing arts and crafts rooms and a library.

Over the past 25 years the organsiation have also been working with the long term unemployed through the Action for Community Employment Scheme, Community Work Programme and more recently through Worktrack.
Pauline says that all this work would not have been achievable without the band of committed volunteers who give up their time for SCA.

“We have a very large network of volunteers and at the minute there are over 100 volunteers who work throughout the organisation on various projects.

“We value the input and the human resource of the volunteers who have given their time and talent to assist us in a whole range of things from fundraising to bus escorts to admin to cleaning, to volunteer retail staff,” she added.

Pauline says that the success of SCA can also be attributed to the local community who have always given their backing to projects.

“I just have to look out the window every day and I see cars pulling up with people donating bags of clothes and we have got great support from the community in terms of donations of clothes and furniture and the money that we generate from that helps to finance some of our community projects.”

Over the last number of years SCA set up the Friends of Dunville Park Group aimed at targeting the problems and anti-social behaviour in the park. This group is currently involved in planning in conjunction with Belfast City Council, the complete refurbishment and upgrading of the park. SCA have also looked at the issue of racism and have been instrumental in tackling any problems locally.

“We were very conscious of minority ethnic groups moving into the area and the Royal Group of Hospitals employs large numbers of the ethnic community,” said Pauline.

“We are conscious of the problems that some of the minority ethnic people have had in the south of the city and unfortunately on some occasions in the west of the city.

“Last year we had a very successful race and ethnic community integration conference and lots of recommendations came from the conference and we are working very closely with minority ethnic groups on issues of racism and we work very closely with the Royal Group of Hospitals as well.”

Pauline estimates that thousands of people have been helped by SCA over the past 25 years. She says that this year is a very happy time for the organisation as they reflect on the work carried out.

“We still have some founder members on our board, such as Rita Flynn and Clare Sullivan. We have Frances Finnegan and Isobel Woods who were here from the beginning, they have seen the organisation grow and evolve to the state it is in today.

“It is very satisfying looking at the hard times when funding might have been stretched or tight when there were concerns about changes in government funding and when you look at what has been achieved over the years and reflect back over 25 years of service to the community, it is a very, very happy time.”

Pauline says that she fully expects SCA to be operating in the local area in the next 25 years.

“We started off 25 years ago in response to high deprivation scores and high unemployment levels and we still see that. While the unemployment figures have reduced, there are still concerns about unemployment and long term unemployment.

“There is still a gap there in skills needs and in literacy and numeracy and these have to be addressed. We have worked through 25 years and these have been troubled times and although we are now in peace times there are new types of troubles emerging and we will continue to tackle these problems,” added Pauline.

The celebrations kick off with a launch event tomorrow, Tuesday, at Malone House at 11.00am.

This will be followed by a celebration lunch with volunteers at the Beehive Bar on Thursday and a night at the Races at St Gall’s GAC at 8.00pm. A senior citizens tea dance will be held in March and a black tie dinner in June.

For further information contact Noreen or Angela on 02890 248509.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?